Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* IT’S NOT JUST THE STOCK MARKET THAT’S RIGGED: THE ENTIRE STATUS QUO IS RIGGED
By Charles Hugh Smith, Washington’s Blog
[…] The stock market is only the tip of the iceberg of what’s being rigged. For a taste of what’s rigged, ask yourself this question: if Mr. Elite Insider perpetrates a scam, and Mr. John Q. Citizen breaks similar laws, is there any difference between the treatment each receives?
Let’s go even deeper and ask: why is looting legal, even though it is obviously crooked? Why is high-frequency trading legal? Why is it legal for the Fed to offer money at 0% to its buddies but not to Mr. John Q. Citizen?
Why is it legal to issue student loans to future debt-serfs that is unlike all other debt in that it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy?
Since the legal looting continues unabated regardless of what party or toady is in office, then what actual difference is there between the Demopublicans and Republicrats?
It’s not just the stock market that’s rigged–the entire Status Quo is rigged. There are two sets of laws and two sets of opportunities: one for those holding the concentrated wealth and power, and the other for the rest of us debt-serfs.
If the system isn’t rigged, then why are insolvent banks and bankers protected from the creative destruction of capitalism that befalls John Q. Citizen when his risky bets go bad? Why do we as a nation keep insisting the Emperor’s new clothes are splendid when he is in fact parading around buck-naked?
One has to wonder why we are dodging this truth about what we’ve become: a nation that turns a blind eye to skimmers, scammers and legal looting. Perhaps, in Joseph Conrad’s phrase, we hope to escape the grim shadow of self-knowledge. Here is the passage from Chapter 7 of Lord Jim:
I gave no sign of dissent. I had no intention, for the sake of barren truth, to rob him of the smallest particle of any saving grace that would come in his way. I didn’t know how much of it he believed himself. I didn’t know what he was playing up to–if he was playing up to anything at all–and I suspect he did not know either; for it is my belief no man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge. […]
* CIA TORTURE AND THE THREAT OF DICTATORSHIP
These CIA crimes are not blemishes on an otherwise healthy military-intelligence apparatus, but the products of a depraved and deeply criminal American ruling class…
Only one conclusion can be drawn from the report published in the Washington Post Tuesday giving grisly details of CIA torture of prisoners and systematic lying by government officials to cover it up: the US ruling elite as a whole is guilty of war crimes for which it must be held accountable.
The Post report, based on leaks from unnamed “US officials,” describes the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the operation of CIA “black sites”—the secret prisons in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, Thailand and other countries where prisoners were held for “interrogation,” i.e., waterboarding, sleep deprivation, beatings, stress positions, induced hypothermia and other forms of torture.
The article provides only a brief extract of the material compiled in the massive committee report, which the CIA has been fighting for more than a year to suppress. On Thursday, the Senate committee is expected to vote to seek the declassification and publication of a 400-page executive summary.
The bulk of the report, which runs to 6,300 pages, is never to be made public, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate panel. The Post article describes its text as divided into three volumes, one giving a full chronology of the secret interrogations, a second contrasting what CIA officials said about the program with what they knew was really happening, and a third giving a detailed accounting of nearly all of the roughly 100 prisoners held at “black sites” between 2002 and 2006. […]
[…] What the report describes is not “excess” or the actions of “rogue” individuals, but a systematic, organized, fully authorized program, endorsed by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The cover-up, in turn, continues to this day, with the active involvement of the Obama administration, implicating top officials up to and including the president. Directly involved is CIA Director John Brennan—a former top aide in the Obama White House and official in the Bush administration. […]
* PROMOTION GIVEN TO COPS WHO SHOT OCCUPY ACTIVIST SCOTT OLSEN
By Brandon Turbeville, Activist Post
As if there was any doubt that police departments all across America are rewarding their officers for egregious acts of violence, the Oakland police department has recently promoted two of the police officers involved in the shooting of Occupy activist Scott Olsen.
Olsen, readers may remember, was an Occupy activist and Iraq war veteran who was shot in the head with beanbag bullets by Oakland police in 2011. Olsen was only about fifteen feet away from the officer who shot him, fracturing his skull and sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police also fired flash grenades at activists who rushed to Olsen’s aid and continued to assault the demonstrators as they attempted to drag Olsen to safety and provide him with medical attention. Olsen temporarily lost his ability to speak, perform basic motor functions, and concentrate adequately. While he has recovered the ability to speak, his speech is still slurred and his memory and concentration are still significantly impaired.
Yet despite the fact that the City of Oakland was forced to pay out $4.5 million to Olsen in a settlement, the Oakland Police Department has now promoted two of the cops involved in the shooting. […]
* CHRISTINE LAGARDE IS CLUELESS: 70 WORDS OF PURE KEYNESIAN CLAPTRAP
By David Stockman, Contracorner
The world’s official economic institutions are run by people who believe in monetary fairy tales. The 70 words of wisdom below from IMF head Christine Lagarde are par for the course. She asserts that a new jabberwocky expression called “low-flation” is the main obstacle to higher economic growth in Europe and the DM areas generally and that it can be cured by more central bank money printing.
The first obstacle is… the emerging risk of what I call “low-flation,” particularly in the Euro Area. A potentially prolonged period of low inflation can suppress demand and output—and suppress growth and jobs. More monetary easing, including through unconventional measures, is needed in the Euro Area to raise the prospects of achieving the ECB’s price stability objective. The Bank of Japan also should persist with its quantitative easing policy.
Now there is not a shred of credible evidence that prolonged low CPI inflation causes workers to produce less, businesses to invest less or entrepreneurs to invent less. Since these are the fundamental ingredients of economic growth on the free market, the question recurs as to why Keynesian Kool-Aid drinkers like Lagarde (and the huge staff of IMF economists she lip-syncs) apparently believe that eroding the value of savings by say only 1% per year vs. 2% will “suppress demand and output”. […]
* THE US-EU TRANS-ATLANTIC FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (TAFTA). DEVASTATING SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES
By Colin Todhunter, Global Research
The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU aims to ‘protect’ investment and remove ‘unnecessary regulatory barriers’. Corporate interests are driving the agenda, the public have been sidelined and unaccountable, pro-free-trade bureaucrats are facilitating the strategy (1).
There is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for GMOs and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights and the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike.
One of the key aspects of the negotiations is that both the EU and US should recognise their respective rules and regulations, which in practice could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator. The official language talks of ‘mutual recognition’ of standards or so-called reduction of non-tariff barriers. For the EU, that could mean accepting US standards in many areas, including food and agriculture, which are lower than the EU’s.
Even the leaders of the US Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef.
Food lobby group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies (Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc.), has welcomed the negotiations, with one of their key demands being the facilitation of the low level presence of unapproved GM crops. […]
* NATO AT 65: PHOTO GALLERY
NATO’s large-scale military operations
The North Atlantic Treaty was signed 65 years ago on April 4, 1949
NATO is a military alliance with the purpose of collective defense. NATO conducts military operations of two kinds: peacekeeping and peace enforcing ones. The difference is that peace keeping actions are realized with the mutual agreement of the parties involved. The ground base for interference in peace enforcing operations is a resolution of the United Nations security council. In reality, however, such operations have taken place without UN’s approval: in 1995 NATO forces interfered in the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina with no UN approval, neither was sanctioned the 1999 NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia. The most widely known large-scale military operations of the NATO in this photo gallery by ITAR-TASS
Captions for photographs:
NATO’s first operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994-1995. Citizens are hiding behind a peacekeeper in Sarajevo in 1995
NATO’s first operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994-1995.
NATO bombs a Serbian arsenal in Pale, near Sarajevo on August 30, 1995
NATO heads the KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, July 14, 1999 Operation ‘Allied Force’ in Yugoslavia, 1999
Operation ‘Allied Force’ in Yugoslavia, 1999. Photo: a power plant on fire in Belgrade on March 24, 1999
Operation ‘Allied Force’ in Yugoslavia, 1999. Photo: a brigde across the Danube destroyed by NATO bombing in Novi-Sad
Operation ‘Allied Force’ in Yugoslavia, 1999. Photo: a bridge across the Danube destroyed by NATO bombing in Novi-Sad
Operation ‘Allied Force’ in Yugoslavia, 1999. Photo: NATO bombardment results in the city of Surdulica, Yugoslavia
Operation ‘Allied Force’ in Yugoslavia, 1999. Photo: NATO bombardment results in the city of Aleksinac […]
* US THREATENS RUSSIA OVER PETRODOLLAR-BUSTING DEAL
On the heels of Russia’s potential “holy grail” gas deal with China, the news of a Russia-Iran oil “barter” deal, it appears the US is starting to get very concerned about its almighty Petrodollar
- *U.S. HAS WARNED RUSSIA, IRAN AGAINST POSSIBLE OIL BARTER DEAL
- *U.S. SAYS ANY SUCH DEAL WOULD TRIGGER SANCTIONS
- *U.S. HAS CONVEYED CONCERNS TO IRANIAN GOVT THROUGH ALL CHANNELS
We suspect these sanctions would have more teeth than some travel bans, but, as we noted previously, it is just as likely to be another epic geopolitical debacle resulting from what was originally intended to be a demonstration of strength and instead is rapidly turning out into a terminal confirmation of weakness. […]
* BLACK SEA: U.S. TO DEPLOY GUIDED MISSILE WARSHIP AGAINST RUSSIAN
By Hendrick Simoes, StopNATO
[…] “We are making plans to meet the intent vocalized by (U.S. and NATO officials) to lay out a sustainable maritime presence in the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, but we do not have anything to announce at this time,” said Capt. Gregory Hicks of the U.S. European Command. He said the Navy routinely operates ships in the Black Sea to demonstrate U.S. commitment to working closely with allies in the region.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the deployment of U.S. warships in the Black Sea during a joint press conference with Kazakhstan’s foreign minister.
According to Russian media reports, Lavrov accused the U.S. of violating the Montreux Convention — a 1936 international agreement that restricts the passage through the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles of naval ships not belonging to Black Sea states. […]
* THE DIVISION OF TURKEY
By Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire
The evolution of Turkish politics since Prime Minister Erdoğan disclosed his affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood is comparable to that of Egypt: the unquestionable support he enjoys is only matched by the hatred he arouses. More than ever, the country is divided, with no democratic solution in sight, and a future that – in whatever form – will necessarily be violent.
Political life in Turkey descended into chaos after the anonymous YouTube release, March 27, of the excerpts from recordings of a national security meeting in which the government was contemplating a false flag attack to trigger an open war against Syria .
This is not the first time that illegal recordings have been leaked. On February 24, an audio tape exposed the Prime Minister telling his son to stash 30 million euros in cash before the police arrive to search his home . Despite Erdoğan’s denials, this incident shattered his image of a pious and law-abiding man.
In reality, things have stopped functioning normally since the courts and the police launched a vast crackdown at the end of 2013 against corrupt high-profile figures. The Prime Minister decried a plot hatched by his former erstwhile ally and current rival, Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen . He responded by sacking thousands of public servants accused of being his disciples.
While the Western press has focused on the embezzlement scandal per se, the Turkish people have also opened their eyes to the real policies of Mr. Erdoğan. He funded – at the expense of the Turkish state – Al-Qaeda in Syria going so far as to receive several visits from the banker of the sect, despite his name appearing on the United Nations most wanted list of international terrorists . Last Friday’s tapes throw the spotlight on the Foreign Minister, his deputy, the deputy chief of staff and the chief of intelligence. The four men were planning to stage a covert operation to be executed by Syrian agents and attributed to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in order to justify a Turkish invasion. […]
* VENEZUELANS WARY THAT FOOD ID CARDS ARE THIN END OF RATIONING WEDGE
By Virginia López, Guardian
Electronic cards that restrict families to shopping once a week aim to prevent widespread food shortages across country
Venezuelans queued on Friday to register for an electronic card system designed to end food shortages that have plagued the country – but which some fear may be the thin end of the rationing wedge.
The ID card, introduced this week, will limit Venezuelans to once-a-week shopping and will set off an alarm to halt any transaction if a purchaser breaks the rules. The government wants to prevent individual shoppers from “over-buying” in a country hit by acute shortages of basic items including milk, sugar and toilet paper. Critics say it is an admission of failure of economic policy in one of the world’s big oil-producing nations. […]
* THE STRATEGY OF THE VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION AND HOW IT WORKS
By Steve Ellner, GreanvillePost
The strategy and tactics of the Venezuelan opposition is a replay of events that took place leading up to the coup against Hugo Chávez on April 11, 2002 and is similar (although in some ways quite different) from the script that has been used in the Ukraine and elsewhere. The blatant distortions and in some cases lies of the media (CNN in Spanish playing a lead role) represent an essential element in the strategy.
There are two main groups that the opposition has mobilized and from all appearances the two act in coordination even though their style, and even social background, differs from one another. One group is non-violent and the other engages in acts of aggression in some cases endangering lives.
On the one hand, students and other young people carry out protests which the media and the opposition deceptively call “peaceful.” These mobilizations involve to a disproportionate extent students from private universities and operate almost exclusively in wealthy areas whose mayors (and in some cases governors) belong to the opposition. The protests are not legal, even though many of the protesters are convinced (or have been convinced by their leaders) that they are exercising the constitutional right of dissent. However, nearly all of these protests take over main avenues and highways in urban areas, typically forcing traffic to a halt and then having to pass through just one lane. It often takes hours for cars to pass through these points. In most cases the protesters consist of between 15 and 80 people, and in a few cases over one hundred. […]